Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Lee Stephen has laid the foundation for a fantastic sci-fi world with the first book in his Epic series, Dawn of Destiny. I suppose the best genre to categorize it would be Young Adult Military Sci-Fi, but it would appeal to a variety of readers. There's action a-plenty, as well as romance, far-out gadgets and gizmos, and prominent Christian themes. That's right, this is a Christian book, but it's not preachy or even overt. Only the protagonist and his fiance are believers, so don't expect a G-rated bloodless fairy tale.

In fact, the violence is quite strong, and there are several minor swear words as well. I wouldn't recommend this book to readers younger than thirteen years old. Stephen does a great job balancing his edgy content and a Christian worldview, which is still relevant in the context of an alien invasion.

So, let's get to it. The story: Earth has been invaded by not one, but three alien species of varying intelligence and battle capabilities. Scott Remington and a colorful crew of new recruits are thrown into the thick of things very quickly and manage to pull off impossible successes, much to the surprise (and sometimes envy) of their COs and fellow soldiers. Since this is only the first book in the Epic series, there are plenty of questions left unanswered but that's to be expected. The story is brisk, the action explosive, and the banter back at base is snippy and sarcastic.

I did think that plot felt a bit episodic - on-base training, battle, back to base, recuperate, train, battle, etc. Stephen follows a very realistic battle scenario, reminding me of the recent movie Battlefield: Los Angeles. Stephen could have removed the aliens and made his antagonists human invaders and the story would have worked equally well. This realism keeps the book grounded even when things become a bit far-fetched (but hey, this is entertainment, right?).

The characters are a mixed bag. Some are well-developed, some are cannon fodder. The female characters were a bit weak, in my opinion. They hardly see combat and exist mostly to tend to the men's wounds and fall in love with them. I don't like the modern trend of having every girl in an action story be a butt-kicking beauty, but in a story of impossibly awesome male characters, it would have been nice to see some impossibly awesome females as well.

The Christian elements were very thought-provoking, grappling with God's calling in one's life. The conflict in the protagonist's heart, and in the heart of his fiance, felt very real and easy to relate to. Everyone feels doubt in their own lives, but the stakes are higher when the wrong choice can mean death or losing the love of your life.

Dawn of Destiny draws heavily from Robert Heinlein's sci-fi classic Starship Troopers, but it stands on its own. If you're looking for a book series with hard-hitting action that isn't buried under a mountain of foul language and lewdness, the Epic Series should give you hours of enjoyment. And it's not finished yet!

You can find Dawn of Destiny on Amazon and B&N. Don't forget to follow Lee Stephen on Twitter and visit his homepage.


  1. Thank you so much for the review, Mark! I'm glad you enjoyed 'Dawn of Destiny.' Not having as many of the strong female characters appear in book one is actually my one big regret with DOD! While there are many in the series - Esther Brooking, Natalie Rockwell, Tanneken Brunner, Tiffany Feathers - they don't start appearing until Epic 2: Outlaw Trigger and onward. I would definitely encourage anyone who feels that women were underrepresented in DOD to hang in there and bear with it! The book's author felt the same way, and he made sure that things changed.

  2. Great! Personally I care more about plot and action more than characters. I was just trying to see through other readers' eyes. As long as bullets fly and things blow up, I'm usually happy :-)

  3. This was free on Amazon so got it and really looking forward to this series. Might interview the author as well! Thanks for posting this review!

    1. I would love to do an interview, Peter! :) Get in touch after you've had a chance to read DOD. You can reach me at lee@epicuniverse.com. Glad you were able to snatch up book one while it was free!